Its Been a While

I have now been on summer break for the past two weeks. I have been relaxing and reflecting on the past school year and asking myself a few questions. Maybe these will help you reflect on your academic year.

1. How did my students progress this year?
2. What could I do different?
3. What worked?
4. What didn't work?
5. What are the new cool things that I can incorporate into my teaching next year?

These are just a few to get you started thinking ... add any comments or experiences that you think could be helpful to the group.

WOW ... very impressive

I recently started incorporating blogs into my after school ESL program. I have had pretty good results, but one of my students, Diego, has impressed me so much that I had to share with you his blog.

A little background, Diego is a 12 year old Ecuadorian ESL student in the 7th grade. He has been living in the US for 9 months.

My instruction - I helped each of my students set up their blog and their profile. However, the blogs they write are completely their choice. If a student does not know what to write about I will give them ideas; favorite movie, things you remember about your country, what you learned in ESL class, etc. I will not edit their blogs unless they ask for help. Some students ask for help and some do not. Diego will ask for help on spelling a few words, but usually nothing more.

Take a look at his blog ... you will be impressed! (and if you feel so inclined comment on one of his blogs, you have no idea how happen he will be)
Diego's Blog

Non Fiction - How students process the information?

Non fiction is something that we should take advantage of in our ESL classrooms. When students read non fiction texts they are exposed to words, ideas and concepts that they can use everyday in their own lives. Students are able to gain information about people, places and things and articulate that information to their peers.

When my students are reading non fiction texts I use the process: collect, summarize, and present. While students are reading, they collect important information and write it on post its. Then they summarize the information into their own words. Finally they present what they learned from the book. The present part can be done as an oral presentation. However, typically I have the students showcase their information through a writing piece and then share one thing from their writing. Different ideas for writing are as follows; a travel brochure, a feature article on a famous person, web comparing and contrasting two animals, write a letter to author about the book, etc. There are many different ways students can present their work, we just need to make sure our students are processing the information they are reading about.

The School Year is Coming to a Close - Portfolio Time

Officially as of today we have one month of school remaining, before we know it we will be saying goodbye to our students and hello to the summer. Now is the time of year for students to reflect on the things they have learned this year and to showcase the knowledge they have gained. The last month of school in my ESL class is devoted to developing portfolios. Portfolios need to be planned from the beginning with the end in mind. As I am planning for the each week, I always have in the back of mind "how will this skill/lesson be showcased in the portfolio"?

The purpose of the portfolio is to recap the learning of the student and give the teacher for next year a good baseline of the student's knowledge and skills. During the year I do four units with my students: fiction, non fiction, book clubs and poetry. In each unit there are standards that the students are held accountable for. For example in the book clubs unit, students need to have completed one book review and wrote an essay comparing and contrasting their book with someonelse's book in their group. These two things will go in their poetry section of the portfolio.

The portfolio is put together by the student. For each piece of work the student places in the portfolio the student also does a review of that work. This can be a short answer response, a checklist or an essay. The students highlight things they enjoyed, strengths, and weaknesses about the piece. This is a time for students to reflect on the things they learned during the unit.

Students also choose one piece that they want to improve (this is usually something from the beginning of the year). The student will they rework the piece they choose and write a rationale for why they chose that piece and how they improved it.

This is a good way to end the year because students get to see all the work they have done and how they have improved from the beginning of the year. However, it is best to plan do make a portfolio from the beginning of the year, so that students save their work to showcase it in their portfolio.

Recent Update: Testing Time

As you all can see I haven't written a blog in about a week. I have been crazy busy at school with testing. This is the time in NY when we have the NYSESLAT exam, the ESL exam. There are four parts: Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. The exam is given over the course of three to five days. Personally, I think it is a pretty fair exam.

I have been inundated this week with testing the students at my school and tomorrow, I should be finished with testing. I plan to share more of my thoughts on the exam and how to prepare students in my upcoming blog tomorrow.

And again, thank you to all my readers who have read my students blogs and commented. They are very happy to be receiving comments on their writing from people they do not know. If you would like to keep tabs on their blogs I will spotlight them on my page soon.

Blogs with my ESL Students After School

I teach a supplemental ESL program after school. I have 8 students and my goal is to teach them English through relevant, cutting edge ways. I started them off with email accounts. I email them two to three times a week and they email me back. We have conversations about what they are interested in. Then we did a project on, a website where you can create your own comic and then publish it on the site for other people to see. And now we are moving onto to creating our own blogs.

Five of them have setup their blog and written their first entry. Hopefully by next week the other 3 students will have theirs started as well. All of my students are beginner level ESL in 6th and 7th grade (12 - 13 yrs old). Stay tuned I will be notating based on my experience with my students best practices for using blogs with ESL students.

Take a look at their blogs and comment if you would like to they would love to know that someone is reading their blog.


So What is Web 2.0 Anways?

Web 2.0 is the cutting edge is the technological world. Most websites as we know them are Web 1.0, this means that they are informational. Web 2.0 includes websites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Basecamp, Buddy School, Schoopy, and many more. Web 2.0 is about delivering the information people need while creating a community. For example, I really enjoy cooking, so I can go to and find, create and share recipes with other people on the site.

We need to start taking advantage of this new wave of technology in our classroom. You can go to the Web 2.0 Index and you will be able to find all the Web 2.0 sites available. I encourage you to explore and find ways to incorporate these new sites into your classroom. Try out, it is a social network where you can communicate with your students and parents. You can have discussions, post homework, give assignments, etc.

In the next few blogs, I will be writing about how you can incorporate Web 2.0 websites into your classroom.